Are Faith and Reason Incompatible?

Since my conversion to Catholicism, and return to the Church, I expected that some would view my personal and faith-based life changes as positive (and most do), but what I was not prepared for, was the extreme negativity of some of my peers in the environmental fields.  It seems that every time I disagree with a particular notion about climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, sustainability, conservation, or resource management, I am somehow “turning my back on science.”  Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.  I have spent my entire adult life embracing mathematics, physics, geology, hydrogeology, meteorology, biology, paleontology, and a whole host of other fields that end with “ology” in my quest to design and develop neighborhoods and communities that embrace and can be sustained within the natural world.

So, when I started being attacked for my renewed faith, and specifically for becoming a Catholic, I found it odd because I never before believed there was a schism between the church and science.  Aren’t both religion and science searching for the truth of our existence? After all, doesn’t everyone know that  a HUGE number of scientific advancements were made by Catholics in their quest to fulfill God’s commandment to “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1:28).  In order to fulfill this commandment, we must understand the science behind God’s works.

Because I am the curious sort, I wanted to take a moment to see if my memory was correct about some of the great scientists and philosophers and their professed faith.  Of course, the great Catholic scientists such as Alios Alzheimer, Claude Bernard, Louis Braille, Rene Descartes, Enrico Fermi, Galileo Galilei, and Guglielmo Marconi came up immediately.  But I was amazed that the list I found of Catholic Scientists, their works, findings, and breakthroughs went on and on. many were Nobel Prize winners. List of Catholic Lay Scientists

So, once again it appears that the division between faith and reason is not quite as sharp as liberal progressivism would have it appear.  For myself, as I continue to work to resolve some of the incompatibilities between the natural, built, and human environment, I will rely on both faith, and reason, to guide my hand.

This post inspired by “The Clergy Behind Science as We Know It” by Jennifer Powell McNutt.

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